This past year we’ve observed a significant increase in the number of requests for creativity training. I’d like to say it was to due to the sudden realization that a creative staff provides a decisive edge in this very competitive global environment. I’d like to say that, but I don’t believe it.
While the observation is indeed true, that’s not why most organizations are finally facing the fact that they should provide creative tools, training and strategies for their people. They’re doing it out of desperation. They’ve run out of options, and they’ve seen the positive return on investment for others who saw the light early on.
One of the concerns I hear from time to time involves the high cost of adapting and maintaining a creative culture. This of course is a misconception. In fact, the opposite is true and has been proven time and time again. Let me share an example.
I just returned from a weekend at Big Cedar Lodge located 10 miles south of Branson, Missouri, on the 43,000 acre Table Rock Lake tucked into the wooded hillsides of the Ozark Mountains. This popular luxury vacation paradise is like none other I’ve had the opportunity to visit. Our client brought their entire leadership steering committee to this scenic vista to enhance their team skills. Those in attendance had a wonderful experience and constantly voiced their appreciation for the opportunity. I’m certain the price tag was substantial although the organization viewed it as an investment rather than a cost.
It was quite obvious to even the most casual observer that Big Cedar Lodge was a contradiction in creativity. Over the years, they’ve spent millions of dollars to create this Utopia. You can see the evidence at every turn:
- A Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.
- Dogwood Canyon Nature Park.
- Waterfalls at every turn.
- Table Rock Lake and its 745 miles of shoreline nestled into the Ozark Mountains.
- Swiftly moving streams designed to flow across the winding roads of the property.
- A full-service marina, spa, and gift shop, and several choices for fine dining, along with horseback riding, pontoon boating, canoes, paddle boating, carriage rides, live entertainment, basketball, ping pong, tennis, bass and trout fishing and trails suited for walking, biking, or hiking. Tours are available by bike, jeep or horseback.
- Choice of tastefully decorated lodges staggered throughout the Ozark Mountains, cozy cottages nestled in the dense forest, or rustic log cabins decked out with the latest technology and authentic wilderness decor.
I was assigned to an exquisite log cabin which gave new meaning to the word “rustic.” Constructed of rough-hewn logs, these comfortable retreat cabins offer the ultimate in personal space and total seclusion. Tucked away amidst the dense timber overlooking Table Rock Lake, the interior design of this unique cabin offered a lavish wilderness atmosphere. It came complete with a beautiful limestone fireplace, a large Jacuzzi bath, a bed the size of a football field, a full kitchen with refrigerator, stove, microwave, and dishwasher, a large 50+ inch flat screen TV, high-speed Internet access, a gigantic gas grill on a wrap-around deck, a FREE over-stocked mini-bar and a dozen very realistic looking animals placed strategically around the cabin and highlighted by recessed accent lighting.
Believe it or not, I’m trying to make a point here other than the fact that a situation like this causes one to pray for a flight delay, preferably a two- or three-day delay. This place offers anything and everything money can buy. However, it balances your experience with a large number of things that money can’t buy! Each of those particulars are a by-product of “creative thinking.”
While every attendee I chatted with sang the praises of this fabulous resort, I seldom heard the above amenities mentioned. I’m certain, beyond the shadow of a doubt, all of the above were greatly appreciated. However, what I did hear mentioned over and over again were experiences which I’m certain will be repeated to others as they return home. For instance:
- Rustic signs displaying a 12 1/2 mph speed limit.
- Immediate no-cost transportation all over the extended property.
- Singing around cozy bonfires offered nightly.
- Gingerbread Wish cookies left on your bed stand each night with a copy of a local custom and instructions on how to have your wishes granted through a cookie ceremony.
- A beautiful complimentary gift basket in every cabin containing 4 large bottles of water, two bags of chips, a bag of popcorn, caramel corn, and several other snack foods.
- The most pleasant, polite, informed, guest-focused staff I’ve ever encountered. After placing my wake-up call, the very pleasant operator requested my permission to call me right back to make certain the phone ring was loud enough for me. In 40 years of coast to coast travel, I have never had that happen.
- After my program on Saturday, I stopped by the executive offices to let them know how pleased I was with their property, staff, culture and environment. In chatting with one of the managers, I learned that the majority of the novel practices I mentioned were created and initiated by staff members. The costs were very minimal, the response was phenomenal, and the return on investment immeasurable. Creativity, brainstorming, and innovation were obviously intricate ingredients in this very unique culture.
Those returning home from Big Cedar Lodge will have tremendous memories of an unforgettable experience. While the beauty and ambiance will not be forgotten, they will be sharing with others the creative differences they encountered … the unique remembrances which made this particular getaway stand out from all others. The “creative edge” provided by the involved staff deserves much of the credit for providing those distinctive memories … recollections which will translate into much free advertising and marketing as well as what I am certain will be a great deal of repeat business.
Does that “critical creative culture” exist within your organization? It could very well be the decisive factor in achieving future success in today’s competitive marketplace. Take a moment to visit our web site to review the following program content which may be useful in the development of such a culture for your organization:
- “Creative Innovation” (Get Out Of The Box)
- “Tennis Shoes & Blue Jeans” (Back-to-the-Basics Approach to Creativity and Innovation)
About Harry K. Jones
Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.
Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things. ~